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There are many reasons to either feed or not feed our birds.  One of the things I miss MOST about having moved here from New Hampshire, is that I don’t have my string of feeders right outside the dining room window.  It provided hours of enjoyment!  Not only did we have birds there, we also had frequent squirrels and occasional black bears come for a handout. They could be annoying and sometimes a bit frightening.

In New Hampshire I didn’t worry so much about the lawn, as our kids made us promise not to grow grass in our yard (they wanted to enjoy their hours there, rather than be cutting the grass!).  Where we lived in Connecticut was a totally different story.  We had a beautifully manicured lawn.  When Spring came, the grass below the feeders was dead, covered with seed debris, and just an awful mess in general.  It took a lot of elbow grease to get it back to where it should be.

All that debris however, brings us to where this particular blog entry picks up.

We now live in the midst of Seattle, Washington.  We now are definitely to be considered residents of an URBAN landscape.  So, if we have feeders, what happens to all of that debris????  It falls to whatever is below.  That might be someone else’s balcony, a green roof, the sidewalk, a terrace…on and on.  I’m sure you get the picture.

But, then what?  If it’s someone’s balcony, they are pretty miffed as they end up having to do the cleaning.  If they sweep it off the balcony…whoops…down below again!  Or else they have to deal with your mess.  That’s not really fair!

Not only is it not fair, the debris AND the seed are a free handout to our local scavengers.  Those might be squirrels, RATS, pigeons, gulls, etc.  It also invites raptors (hawks, etc.) who prey on the visiting birds.  And then there are the cats, who are the biggest enemy of birds at feeders, as I understand it.

Here at Horizon House we are asked NOT to have bird feeders for just those reasons.  I know we all miss seeing the birds, but we now live in the city, and we need to be kind to our human neighbors.  We should also refrain from being “pigeon people”.  One of those who save bread and feed it to the pigeons.  It’s unhealthy for a whole lot of reasons.  It is NOT nutritious for the birds, and again it attracts the wrong creatures to our midst.

I would like to suggest that if you want to see some birds you might find a hummingbird feeder.  There is no debris.  You will get to enjoy the hummers. They are pretty speedy, discouraging those that might want to eat them!k6000674

Should you decide on the hummingbird feeder, mounted with a suction cup to your window…be sure to remove the feeder when the window cleaner guy comes.  It’s a sure-fire way to lose feeders, and make the window cleaners job a whole lot more difficult.

 

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One of our activities this past “June In Our Gardens”, was to go into Freeway Park and identify some birds that would certainly fly into our gardens as well.  Penny Bolton, from Audubon, came to lead our group.

IMG_7799We began at our E-Level entrance/exit that goes right into Freeway Park.  It was a great place to begin our adventure.  About 20-25 people showed up with binoculars and smiles, and we were OFF!

We didn’t see a ton of birds, but we did see enough to keep us interested, and they WOULD fly right into our gardens. IMG_7803 We now knew what to look for when we got back to our terraces.

I have added links which you can click, to find the Audubon description, with pictures of each bird we saw.

There were the usual cast of avian characters beginning with our Harbingers of Spring:  The ROBIN.

Next up came the CROW.  These guys seem to be everywhere.  They are loud, curious, and fun.

Another common bird here, is of course, the ROCK PIGEON.

IMG_7810The little DARK-EYED JUNCO.  These active little guys are frequently seen hopping amidst the flowers around the dining room.  We all watch them there.

An of course, the BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE.  They are everywhere!

HOUSE FINCHES were also seen.  We once had a pair of them build a nest in our window enclosure.  THAT was fun!

GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS are our constant companions.  They can usually be found sitting on building roofs, or cruising the skies over Seattle.

For those of us that were QUICK…there were some VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS.

The last and most stunning of all were the ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRDS, busying themselves in many of the blossoms found in profusion around the park.

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June is an incredibly busy month for me. unnamed-1 Here at Horizon House, the Garden Committee (which I chair) has an entire month of garden related activities.  There’s something planned for each and every day.  It’s a lot of fun.  People love it,,,but it leaves me quite exhausted…if satisfied and very happy!unnamed

So, allowing myself to GRADUALLY get back down to earth, this will not be a terribly informative blog posting.  I’ll show you some pictures of a few of the activities we enjoyed.

Every “Sunny Monday” evening, from 5-6 PM we gather on our D level garden terrace and “party”!

Everyone brings their own beverage of choice, as well as a snack to share.  It’s a time of relaxing with friends, and meeting new people.  Just a great social event.

Our next weekly event, was a “Picnic Lunch”, every Wednesday, also in the Level D garden.  This one was a “bring your own lunch”, which can either be made at home, or brought from the Bistro.

The Garden Committee provided cookies, and brownies.  It was also a great social time to meet friends and neighbors, both new and old.  It was so well received that we decided to run it right through the summer (just like Sunny Mondays).

The rest of the days were devoted to other garden related activities, like Bird Watching with an IMG_7803Audubon volunteer and friend of Horizon House, Penny Bolton; cooking with herbsIMG_7738.jpg, by Ray-our chef; gardening photography by residents Wes and John; Poetry and Meditation in the gardens;

IMG_7756IMG_7758

Tours-both in our own gardens

Woodland Park Rose GardenIMG_7827 and the Kubota Japanese Gardens (led by our own Ib).

We learned to use the BBQ grills that Horizon House has provided for our use.  There was a very exciting lesson in floral arranging, done in collaboration with the Floral Committee, provided by  Thomasi, (who left the next day for a competition in Washington D.C.) .

As you can imagine, it was a busy time for the little “June In Our Gardens” committee of Ann, Carol, Gussie and Louise; the entire Garden Committee; and of course, me.  It was a JOY!

 

 

Prune spring flowering shrubs when they have finished blooming. IMG_6128 Be very careful with rhododendrons and azaleas, as it’s very easy to remove next years bloom.  If you can just leave them, it would probably be best.

Thin seedlings

Use balanced, organic fertilizers around flowers

Be sure to fertilize your annuals with liquid fertilizer. They’ll thank you for it by blooming continuously!

Stake tall perennials, like lilies, and Foxglove.

Are your tomatoes “caged”?  If not, get that done before it’s too late.

Use a pine needle mulch for blueberries

Be sure your lawn mower is set to cut the grass HIGH

IMG_7570Be sure to dead-head those iris, and remember the time to divide them comes next month.

Gladiolus corms can be planted-alternate their planting by two weeks or so.  That way they will bloom continuously.

Dead-head (prune off) spent flowers from plants and shrubs

Remove rhubarb seed stalks as they form.

Cutting back perennials such as dianthus, veronica and other similar shrubby varieties, will possibly produce a second blooming. How great would that be? They’ll also look better!

You can make softwood cuttings of shrubs this month through July.  Using a little rooting hormone would facilitate the process.

You may still plant container grown shrubs

Plant broccoli seed for fall harvest.

If you have a water garden, there’s still time to plant water
lilies.

House plants can be moved outside to a shady, protected spot.

These same houseplants can be lightly fed with half strength
fertilizer.

Mulch perennials and roses to keep down weeds and conserve moisture.

If you have an amaryllis, now would be the time to move it outside.

Pinch the leading stems of your chrysanthemum’s to encourage them to
be bushier and have more blossoms. Continue doing this every 6 inches
or so, as they grow.

If you have apple trees, hang red sticky-ball traps to control apple maggot flies. Small trees can get by with 2 balls. Larger trees should probably have 4-6 balls.

Stop cutting asparagus when the new spears get pinkie-finger thin. Let them grow into ferns instead. It will feed the roots.

Side-Dress veggies to give them a little boost

Have you got Hostas? IMG_7586Are there slugs chewing them? Try this solution, if you haven’t already.
Combine 9 parts water to 1 part common household ammonia and spray it on the hosta just before dark. When the slugs hit this, they will dissolve!

Are you remembering to turn the compost every once in a while? You should also wet it down if the hose is close by. Doing this will help it decompose quicker although it will eventually happen anyway!

Mow down any daffodil drifts that have “gone by”, if you haven’t already!

Order your bulbs so they arrive in time to plant in the autumn.

The irises are LOVELY right now.  Some of them are VERY heavy and really need to be propped up.  There are a few that have had their tops nibbled off by some critter, or crow perhaps.  Oh, well!

As you can see by the pictures I took this morning as I cruised through the Horizon House gardens, those irises are really showing off!

 

I went from deck to deck, to see all the majesty our gardeners have wrought.  If you haven’t gone down to look, you really should!

The C deck even has some veggies, with our little friend Peter in it’s midst!

The D Level gardens are popping as well!  And the bees are happy!

Going onto the Secret Garden, there are always surprises to be found!

What do you think?  Are the gardens ready for “June In Our Gardens”?

In June the Garden Committee gives a SPECIAL invitation for everyone to visit the gardens.  Every day, we will have tours, activities, lectures, trips, parties, lunches brought to enjoy together, and just a jolly time outside.  The Garden Committee hopes you’ll participate and join us for as many activities as you can.

Remember we not only garden for us, we garden for YOU!

MAY GARDENING CHORES FOR THE

PACIFIC NORTHWEST

Know your Horticultural Zone.  Find it here!

  • Tulips should be dead-headed(remove spent flower)100_0120
  • The grass can be mowed when it reaches 3-4 inches (sorry, but it IS that time again!)
  • Hold off mulching until the soil is warm, or you’ll just keep the cold in!
  • You can now plant lettuce, beans, corn and carrots right in the soil.
  • They say that tomatoes can be planted when the lilacs bloom. Hmmm…  You might sprinkle a teaspoon of Epsom salts into the hole where they go to provide magnesium.  44252830-beautiful-tomatoes-in-the-summer-garden-natural-conceptRemember that smaller plants will establish better than the larger ones, so go for the smaller potted plants rather than the big ones.  Be aware that temperatures MAY drop on some nights, so be prepared to  protect your seedings.
  • Marigolds, zinnias and even nasturtiums are good to plant in and around your vegetables as well as the flower beds. They repel insects!
  • You can begin to plant gladiolas at 2 week intervalsimages.duckduckgo
  • You can fertilize any bulbs that are up.
  • Stake your peonies before they get too big.  This web page about peonies is from Vermont.  However, the explanations are wonderful and the pictures are very helpful!IMG_6291
  • Insert stakes for dahlias and other bulbs at planting time to avoid spearing tubers which might happen after growth has started.
  • Harvest rhubarb by grabbing it at the base of the stalk and pulling firmly away from the crown, twisting just a bit. Be sure to throw the leaves into the compost as they are poisonous!images.duckduckgo
  • You can prune your spring blooming shrubs just as soon as the flowers have faded.

Ah, yes!  Here they come…shoots, buds, flowers, and gardeners out snipping, digging, watering and just enjoying life in our gardens here at Horizon House!

Louise A. was out the other morning taking some lovely photos that I will share with you here.  They are ALL from our gardens, Level C, Level D and of course, the Secret Garden!  Go outside and enjoy them all!

 

My little succulent (mostly) garden thrives as well.  I give it a little watering when I’m down there, but don’t really worry too much about it.  It tolerates drought just fine!  Lucky for me, I guess.  IMG_7478

What does appear necessary to accomplish is some “dead-heading”.  The daffodils and even some tulips are beginning to look a bit bedraggled.  With bulbs it’s important to allow the leaves to feed the bulbs for next years blooms.  So, when you dead-head them, place your snipper down as low to the ground on the STEM that HOLDS THE FLOWER, and snip there.  Leave the surrounding leaves!  This is one of the reasons many gardeners plant their bulbs amidst other plants that come after and do a good job of hiding the gradually retreating bulb leaves.  As they turn brown, they too can be removed if you’d like.  Here’s a link to the University of Maryland Extension Service article about bulbs and their care, as well as dead-heading.

The other evening the Conservation Committee here at Horizon House hosted Dr. David Montgomery.  He spoke about his new book “Growing a Revolution:Bringing our Soil Back to Life”.  It was a wonderful program.  We all learned a lot.  It can even apply to our little garden plots here.

Enjoy being outside!  And Gardeners-HAVE A BLAST!

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